Skip to main content

Full text of "French Grammar"

See other formats


Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 

Read more about Early Journal Content at 
journal-content . 

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 


January, 1900. MODERN LANGUAGE NOTES. Vol. xv, No. 1. 


clauses and lines that are about as difficult to 
interpret as the original, for which even the 
brief vocabulary of "some words not com- 
monly used now " does not always give suffi- 
cient help. On the whole, however, the trans- 
lation of Morris gives the beauties of the orig- 
inal, and spirits the reader away to the roman- 
tic days of Hroftgar in Heorot and Hygelac in 
Geatland as no other modern version, now in 
existence, will do. The critic in the Athetueum*3 
says : 

' ' We can well imagine that this translation of 
' Beowulf ' into rhymeless alliterative lines will 
seem uncouth to the general reader whose ear 
is familiar only with the Quantitative scansion 
of classic movements and the accentual prosody 
of modern rhyme and Blank verse. But if the 
business of the translator of an ancient poem 
is to pour the old wine into the new bottles 
with as little loss as possible of the original 
aroma, Mr. Morris's efforts have been crowned 

with entire success So powerful is the 

vision at work in this glorious poem, that it 
seems the product not of a poetical artificer, 
but of Nature herself. . . . The last crowning 
excellence in all poetry is that it shall seem to 
be inspired, and one of the greatest aids to 
this is that the struggle between matter and 
form shall be so little apparent that the move- 
ment seems the inevitable outcome of him who 
tells the tale or sings the song." 

Ragozin's Beowulf, the Hero af the Anglo- 
Saxons, is contained in the last one hundred 
and odd pages of the book. The story is in no 
sense a literal translation of the original, al- 
though the narrative is frequently interspersed 
with passages translated into simple, easy 
prose. These "Tales of the Heroic Ages" 
are avowedly written for the entertainment 
and instruction of the young, between the ages 
of ten and fifteen, but the Beowulf might be 
read with great interest and profit by "grown 
up " people ; or even by students and critics of 
the Old English epic. The main outline and 
facts of the poem are given in such easy-flow- 
ing, vivacious prose, that the reader experi- 
ences in its perusal all the pleasure of a novel 
or fairy tale. 

The interest of the story is very much in- 
creased by four splendid illustrations from the 
adventures of the hero, Beowulf ; namely, The 
Death of Beowulf (Frontispiece) ; The Landing 
of Beowulf; Queen Wealhtheow Pledges Beo- 
wulf; Beowulf and the Old Wife of the Mere. 

Wm. H. Hulme. 
Western Reserve University. 

13 August io, 1895. 


Grammaire historique de la langue francaise. 

Par Kr. Nyrop, Professeur a l'Universite' 

de Copenhague. Tome premier. Copen- 

hague: det Nordiske Forlag. Leipzig: Har- 

rassowitz. Paris : A. Picard & Fils. 1899. 8vo, 

pp. xi, 488. 

We are at last to have a measurably complete 

French historical grammar written, not by a 

Frenchman it is true, but at least in French. 

If we must again postpone the realization of 

our hopes for Mr. Gaston Paris' Grammaire 

de Vancien Fraticais, which is to solve for us 

so many questions reserved from time to time 

in Romania for a more convenient season, we 

take great satisfaction in having before us the 

work of one of that large band of scholars who 

have received from him their inspiration for 

Romance studies. 

Prof. Nyrop's grammar is a striking evidence 
of the constantly increasing importance which 
the scientific study of the Romance languages 
is attaining. It will be when completed by far 
the most compendious historical grammar of a 
single Romance language, this first volume 
containing four hundred and eighty-eight pages 
as against two hundred and seventy-one in the 
Schwan-Behrens grammar, although the latter 
treats phonology and morphology, while the 
former does not include the morphology. A 
comparison of Part H., 'Phondtique,' in Nyrop's 
work with Part I., 'Lautlehre,' of the Schwan- 
Behrens, which is a fairer test, shows two hun- 
dred and ninty-four and one hundred and 
twelve pages respectively. 

The contemporary form of the language is 
chosen as the standpoint for considering the 
alteration of Latin into French. The plan may 
well be defended, since Modern Frrench is for 
us the most important stage, and, in large 
measure, the cause of our interest in those 
which preceded ; yet it may be questioned 
whether Old French is not the true vantage 
position, from which, as middle ground, we 
can best look back to the Latin and forward to 
the Modern French. No such hesitation, how- 
ever, need be felt in commending the author's 
use, wherever practicable, of the Classic form 
of Latin words when citing etyma. It is true 
that prominence should be given to the fact 
that such form is frequently not the basis of the 
French word, and, it may here be remarked, 
Prof. Nyrop might to decided advantage have 
laid more stress on the difference between 



January, 1900. MODERN LANGUAGE NOTES. Vol. xv, No. 1. 


phonetic modifications which took place in the 
general Folk-Latin stock and those peculiar to 
Gallic territory ; but, nevertheless, the Classic 
Latin furnishes the form more familiar to the 
student, and if the main laws which worked in 
the popular speech be emphasized, he quickly 
learns to make for himself the most of the 
alterations in the correctness of which we have 
confidence ; while the attempt to clothe every 
word in a Folk-Latin dress is bound to result 
in erronious, and liable to result in ridiculous, 

Part I. of the volume, 'Histoire geneVale de 
la Langue francaise' treats in seperate chapters 
the origins, the general history, and the exter- 
nal characteristics of the language in the Old, 
the Middle, the Classic, and the Modern period, 
and, in conclusion, the orthography. The 
material, wisely chosen and well arranged, is 
presented clearly and attractively, and forms an 
admirable introduction to the study of French 
historical grammar. 

Part II., 'Phon&ique,' evidences no less dis- 
tinctly the author's orderly bent of mind. He 
has distributed his material into chapters in a 
form convenient for both study and reference. 
The chapter devoted lo each vowel treats only 
the 'unconditioned' development of that vowel 
in free and in checked tonic and subtonic pos- 
iton. Then separate chapters are devoted to 
the disturbing influence of palatal consonants, 
labial consonants, /, and r, after which atonic 
vowels are grouped together. Syncope and its 
opposite, dieresis, hiatus, and apophony, or 
vowel alterations due to accent-shifting, are 
treated in the closing chapter on vowels. The 
main division of the subject of consonants is 
based on their mode of formation and not on 
their position with regard to surrounding 
sounds, so that the plan of arrangement em- 
ployed for the vowels is reversed. The con- 
cluding chapters of the work are concerned 
with general phenoma disturbing the working 
of phonetic laws, as dittology and haplology 
(better known to most of us as assimilation and 
dissimilation), popular etymology, etc. 

The bibliography of 46 pages is quite de- 
tailed, but needs to be supplemented in some 
cases by the use of that of Schwan-Behrens, 
over which, however, it takes decided prece- 
dence in convenience of arrangement. Some 

of the books and articles cited might, in view 
of theauthor's 'butsurtout peViagogique,' have 
been omitted as not calculated to add to the 
student's stock of accurate information. It is 
to be regretted that Prof. Nyrop did not adopt 
one of the standard systems of abbreviation for 
the titles of journals and collections, either that 
of the Zeitschriftfnr romanische Pkilologieox 
that of the Kritischer Jahresbericht, but here, 
and elsewhere, the book shows a tendency 
rather away from than toward German influ- 
ences. The closing pages of the grammar con- 
tain an analytic index, and a word-index appar- 
ently complete. 

There is evidence of a careful and extensive 
use of the valuable Dictionnaire gintral of 
Hatzfeld, Darmesteter, and Thomas as the 
chief authority in etymologies and word-forms. 
In fact the whole trend of the work shows the 
influence of the French school, the author's 
opinions on grammatical questions coinciding 
largely with those of Mr. Paris. The nature of 
a handbook such as that before us precludes 
exhaustive discussion of original views, yet 
there are points which are presented in a way 
to furnish interesting food for reflection. The 
absence of certain of the details of date and 
process of development may be justified by 
Prof. Nyrop 's 'ordinarily excluding all doubtful 
opinions,' yet this test can hardly have been 
applied to some that are admitted. A valuable 
feature of the volume from the pedagogical 
standpoint is the fulness with which examples 
of learned forms are cited tinder each subdi- 
vision. On the other hand, a number of details 
given in the phonology belong more properly to 
morphology, and unnecessary repetition would 
have been avoided by reserving them for the 
second volume. Phonetic terminology is so 
complicated and conflicting that the first care 
should be to do nothing to add to the confusion. 
Why then call all syllables before the accent 
'protonic' instead of, with Darmesteter and 
Meyer-Ltibke, limiting the term to the syllable 
immediately preceding it? Again, does it help 
the already sadly befogged nomenclature of 
palatals to use the name 'prepalatal' for a pal- 
atal before e, i; medio-palatal for a palatal 
before a; post-palatal before o, uf Taken as 
a whole, however, the book is a inodel of clear- 
ness, showing in this one of the most salient 



January, 1900. MODERN LANGUAGE NOTES. Vol. xv, No. 1. 


advantages of the influence of the esprit fran- 
cais. We have the implied promise that the 
succeeding volumes will treat morphology, 
syntax, and semantics. 1 We thank the author 
for the portion of the grammar which has 
already appeared, and shall await with eager- 
ness the remaining parts. 

A few comments on individual points are 

§ 20. The author makes the surprising as- 
sertion that in Old French there occur no 
learned adjectives or verbs. How would he 
explain such words as enluminet (Roland, 1. 
535), violi (id., 704), penser(id., 1472), criminel 
(id., 2456), principal (id., 3432), etc.? If his 
statement is intended to refer only to the 
examples he has cited, it is, to say the least, 

§ in. "Si b devient v dans hibernum> 
hiver, on trouvera que le mfime changement a 
eu lieu dans tous les mots ou 6 se trouve dans la 
mSme situation, c. a. d. precede' et suivi d'une 

The last phrase in its present wording is incor- 
rect. An intervocalic labial is not in the same 
situation when followed by a back vowel as 
when followed by a front vowel : cf. *tabo- 

NEM>/«0», DEBUTUM>rf«< with DEBERE> 


% 113,3. Pouvoir<pooir is incorrectly cited 
as an example of the development of a new 
sound. It is an analogous formation; cf. Z. R. 
P. XI, pp. 538-539- 

§ § 127-128, 148-149. Folk-Latin lengthening 
of free tonic vowels is not asserted, and by 
implication is rejected (cf. § 128, first sentence). 
Even if the author, as here indicated, follows 
Boehmer, a theory so generally accepted and 
of such basal importance as ten Brink's should 
at least be mentioned. As Prof. Nyrop does 
not draw this quantitative distinction; he nat- 
urally holds (§ 171) that «<free a was distin- 
guished from *<checked e or<checked e not 
by its length but by its quality. He does, how- 
ever, questioningly suggest (§ 181) a difference 
in quantity between Old-French o< checked o 
and 0<free<>. 

§ 149. To state that a vowel which is fol- 
lowed by a single consonant, as in nos, 
tres, is in an open syllable serves, it is true, 

1 Cf. i S»5. '•">•• 1 5'9f ™°>- 

as a practical rule, but misleads and confuses 
the student. It should be explained that a 
vowel in this position would be free or checked 
according to the nature of the initial sound of 
the word which follows, but that the cases 
where it was free prevailed over the others. 
This is a section in which the author is forced 
to choose between conflicting theories and his 
choice is to consider that cr and mute+/ con- 
stituted checked position. He avoids the fur- 
ther problem that is offered by poile, pen- 
sile, by omitting the word altogether. 

§ 164. It is surprising to see it suggested in 
explanation of the diphthongization of the vowel 
in vieil, siecle that the date of the fall of the 
« in vetulum, s*culum, was later than 
the diphthongization o{ e. From the days of 
Schuchardt's Vokalismus on, no one has ques- 
tioned the antiquity of the absence of the u in 
the combinations citl, tUl. Farther on in the 
same section melius and veniam are given 
as examples of words having a checked tonic 
vowel (cf. also § 207). While it is customary to 
consider ly and tiy as checking combinations, 
yet to do so raises serious problems, both 
becauseofthe history of preceding eando and 
because of the early passage of ly, ny to tnouilU 
I, n. Prof. Matzke's view accords better with 
the principles of syllable division. 

§ 183. The suggestion that the passage of 
free o to 6, instead of being similar to that of 
e to oi, resembles that of u to u is interesting, 
and at least worthy of further investigation. 

§ 214, cas isolis. Moindre is erroneously 
treated as having a checked tonic vowel. 

§ 231. The sub-heads are incorrectly num- 

§ § 209-232. The chapter on nasals is well 
arranged and very clear. The author follows 
Mr. Paris' theory, accepting the preservation 
of all nasal consonants in Old-French pronun- 
ciation (§ 332) and rejecting the nasalization of 
any vowels except a and e. The only qualifi- 
cation he makes is in § 213 (cf. also § zi8), 
where he says : "La nasalization (of i in in), si 
elle a exists, a 6t6 tres peu sensible": but cf. 
§ 225 : Tout o devant une nasale £tait ferm6 et 
oral,', and § 227 : "Au moyen Age drunset uns 
assonaient avecpius, fnt, vertut . . . : done, » 

t Puilicationt of tht Mod. Lang. Association, vol. xlli, 
PP. »7"3«. 



January, 1900. MODERN LANGUAGE NOTES. Vol. xv, No. 1. 


£tait plut6t oral." The arguments of Herzog3 
for the pre-literary disappearance of nasal con- 
sonants when in the same syllable as the pre- 
ceding vowel, and therefore for the nasalization 
of all vowels in Old-French, have brought new 
and important support to the theory of Prof. 
Suchier, which should by all means be men- 

§ 250. To consider mute e in final syllables 
a supporting vowel in all cases in which it does 
not represent Latin a is not satisfactory, as 
Prof. Meyer-Lubke4 has pointed out. 

§ 2 53 (P- 2I <>> last line). Mute e in Modern 
French 'ne s'entend jamais en prose dans les 
mots isoles ou avant une pause.' Probably 
que is omitted after prose, but in any event the 
statement is too sweeping. 

§ 261,3. So far as the history of the language 
as shown by its monuments is concerned, (o, 
rest, etc., are as old as ice, icest. Why not 
explain the one set as tonic, the other as atonic 
forms ? 

§ 348,2. What indications are there that 
double / and simple / had different values in 
Old-French pronunciation ? Again, the asser- 
tion is made in § 466 that the writing ss 
denoted a true double consonant in Old- 
French. It is probable that its meaning as a 
graphic sign was the same then as it is now. 

§ 371. cas isolis. The fall of p in *sapotum 
is rightly classed as not phonetic, but attention 
might have been called to *habutum>2» as 
having caused the fall of the consonant in seu. 

§ 378. The author adopts the view of Prof. 
Thurneysen that the point of departure for the 
loss of the b in the Imperfect was habebam, 
debebam, in which the b fell by dissimila- 
tion. This does not seem, as an unsupported 
explanation, sufficient. Prof. Lindsay's sug- 
gestions of proportional analogy to the Future 
is worthy of consideration. In early h&tm-ibo 
is found bv the side of-iattt in the Future of IV, 
and-ebo by the side of-«/» in the Future of III. 
Thus, as the Future had forms with and with- 
out b, the Folk-Latin Imperfect may have had 
a form without b parallel to the form with b. 
§ § 471, 208. The Ral.+a theory of the 

3 Z. R. P., vol. xxii (1898), pp. 536-543. 

4 Z. F. S. L., vol. xv, part a, pp. 90-91. Cf. also Rydberg, 
Die Entstehung des 3-Laut, Upsala, 1896, p. 46; Staaf, Revue 
tie Philologie frangaise et tie Lit., vol. xi (1897), pp. 27-31 . 

5 The Latin Language. By W. M. Lindsay, Oxford, 1894, 
8. p. 493.2 37. ' 

development of-ARiuM is adopted, but with- 
out comment or exposition. In § 208 the 
student may be in doubt whether -ier represents 
the uniform development of ry or not, while 
the statement in § 471 that ry 'se combine en 
un r mouill£, qui se resout en ir,' with the cita- 
tion side by side, in illustration, of paria> 
paire,-AMVM>-ier, is most confusing, -a- 
rium might have at least been put down as a 

§ 400, 2, rem. If the developement of words 
in -icus is 'peu clair,' the difficulty does not 
lie in the contrast shown in the two sets of 
words given, for this is due to the /of the first 
set being in weak, and the / of the second in 
strong position. 

P. 406. For 415 read 451. 

In the sections called 'cos isol6s' more sug- 
gestions as to the cause of the variations from 
regular development might easily be given and 
would be servicable to the beginner. Some 
examples of this lack have already been men- 
tioned, and a few others will be added here. 
The list could be extended. § 379,2. The 
student should note that in coulon, plon the b 
which fell was final and followed an in. § 382,2. 
A beginner might not see the bearing upon 
these words of the late fall of protonic vowels 
or of the preceding sonorous consonants. The 
same explanation is needed also in § 400, 2 ; 
§ 401, 2 ; § 403, 2, cas isolis. The cases in the 
sections cited might have been contrasted 
with those in § 390, cas isolis, in order to bring 
out the fact that, for a consonant resulting from 
the fusion of a secondary combination there is 
regressive assimilation in place of formation, 
progressive in mode of formation. 

§ 399i f as isolis. The words in which cr>gr 
all have era. § 399, rem. The difference in 
time between the reduction of qu to k in quand 
and quinze is not mentioned, and attention 
might have been called to the cause of the re- 
duction in quinque, etc. 

Edward C. Armstrong. 
Jo/ins Hopkins University. 


Lessing-'s Minna von Barnhelm, edited with an 
Introduction and Notes by A. B. Nichols. 
New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1898. 
This text-book, which comes from its pub- 
lishers as a most attractive and handy little